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Stackyard News Jul 06

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Badger Trust welcomes Miliband's commitment to science

The Badger Trust has welcomed David Miliband's promise to put science first in addressing the bovine tuberculosis problem in the national herd.


In a speech at today's Royal Agricultural Show, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said:

"First, any decision on culling must be based on a sound scientific and practical base."

Trevor Lawson, Badger Trust spokesman, commented:

"Although we are disappointed that Mr Miliband has not taken this opportunity to rule out badger culling, the Secretary of State has clearly recognised just how complex the bovine TB problem is. It is reassuring to see his commitment to a policy based on sound science, because the science clearly indicates that culling badgers is logistically impossible, not cost effective and certain to worsen the situation.

"Mr Miliband also expressed a desire to see farming make 'a positive net contribution to the environment and managing risks, especially of animal disease'. Slaughtering tens of thousands
of badgers could hardly be a net contribution to the environment.
And since cattle are the primary reservoir of the disease, that is where attention must be focused.

"Our concern now is that Mr Miliband did not make any commitments to the cattle-based TB control measures that are desperately needed and to the gamma interferon TB test in particular. It is vital that the Secretary of State delivers on his promise and listens to scientists, not Defra's entrenched vets, when considering gamma interferon.

"To the best of our knowledge, Mr Miliband has still not met representatives of the Independent Scientific Group (ISG). It is vital that he does so. The ISG has confirmed that its meetings with animal health and welfare minister Ben Bradshaw were 'very infrequent' [2] and the grossly misleading, scientifically-flawed
content of Mr Bradshaw's badger culling consultation confirms that.
Defra's vets cannot be trusted to give the Secretary of State sound scientific advice."

link Badger Trust "disappointed" by beef farmers' "cynical threats"
link Defra cannot let farmers down over badger cull, says NBA
link NFU "mired in confusion" over bovine TB
link NFU badger culling demand "laughable" say conservationists
link How we beat bovine TB before: Badger Trust

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